An Insider's Look at Mormon Culture

Brother Knowalle adjusted the microphone to his height and announced the assigned topic for his sacrament meeting talk: Priesthood. His text, he
informed us, was the Pearl of Great Price—and the Book of Jasher. My eyes opened from the drowse induced by the previous speakers. Book of Jasher? Yes, I
recalled the mention of that book in the Bible—but it’s not in the Apocrypha. How had Brother Knowalle located it?

I opened my quad to Moses 6 as Brother K outlined priesthood linage from Adam to Noah. I followed his outline in my scriptures until he
informed us that Abraham was taught the gospel by Noah who also conferred the priesthood upon him. Information definitely not found in either Moses or
Abraham.

The story became more colorful than anything recorded in the standard works. Abraham went into a roomful of idols in his father’s house,
broke them up, challenged his father’s beliefs in said idols, and received a death sentence from the king. BK did not distinguish between data gleaned from
Mormon scripture and data from the Book of Jasher. To him there was no difference.

Brother K’s voice shook with emotion as he explained—also apparently from Jasher—the reason the Church could not baptize Africans and their
descendents before 1978. Apparently BK hasn’t heard of Elijah Abel.

BK did motivate me to look up the Book of Jasher online. In case Brother Knowalle or one of his clones speaks in your ward in the near
future, the following link will help you place the Book of Jasher in context.

Now, I’ve never agreed with the Church policy of limiting texts used for talks and lessons to the scriptures and Ensign, although I realize many Mormons believe anything heard from
the pulpit is official Church doctrine. I prefer being amused to being bored—and BK kept me more engaged than most sacrament meeting speakers do. But after last Sunday, I understand the wisdom in restricting speakers and teachers to Church-approved texts.

A possible alternative to limiting SM talks to rehashing General Conference addresses might be to insist that speakers identify non-Church
endorsed sources, tell the congregation the information they are presenting is not from official publications, and let their listeners decide how much to accept. The problem with that is: How do you get people like Brother Knowalle to admit their pet source of information does not have official sanction?

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